Touchstone review

Avo dish No.1: 'Crushed' avocado with piped curd and piquillo pepper paste.
Avo dish No.1: 'Crushed' avocado with piped curd and piquillo pepper paste. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Unit 1 30 Aberdeen Rd Macleod, VIC 3085

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3pm
Features Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard

Bring on the warmer weather, when you no longer need a full-length puffer jacket and balaclava to survive the brunch queues spontaneously appearing like mushrooms across Melbourne suburbia every weekend. The last burst of winter left us huddling on the footpath outside Touchstone like king penguins minus the consolation of Morgan Freeman narration – but that's the price you pay when visiting a cafe bringing the new to the land of the "cuppacino".

The space

A good cafe is a community hub as much as a purveyor of coffee, and Touchstone has chosen its real estate wisely with its bright corner spot in a shopping strip near Macleod train station. It's not huge but every square centimetre has been cleverly portioned for seating (comfy booths are the prize for which you should be aiming) and a slightly squished takeaway waiting area partitioned from the room by a greenery-topped wall. The palette of greys, timber and brass ticks every box on the a la mode chart.

Touchstone's booths are 'comfy as heck'.
Touchstone's booths are 'comfy as heck'. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

The food

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the mortgage belt without having to talk about a certain green Mexican fruit, along comes Touchstone with two versions of Melbourne's controversial brunch favourite.

The action of the kitchen is hidden from view so we can't comment on what makes the avo "crushed" rather than smashed, but we can report that it comes with piped curd and some excellent piquillo pepper paste with a nicely considered chilli kick. (The other avo dish, you ask? It's the handmaiden to sauteed greens and a poached egg.)

Snickers panna cotta with berries.
Snickers panna cotta with berries. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

The menu covers the full spectrum of the Pantone cafe food chart, from the dessert-for-breakfast dish of a chocolate-caramel panna cotta with fruit and granola action and torched puffs of marshmallow, to virtuous miso salmon bowls with soba noodles.

A few oversights puzzle. No butter on the toast with avo No.1. And tightly rolled ribbons of raw zucchini bringing nothing but disappointment to their otherwise decent stablemates of pea croquettes covered in a grated manchego fuzz, spinach puree and wedges of yet more avocado covered in dukkah.

The coffee

Latte art swans into Macleod.
Latte art swans into Macleod. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Symmetry Roasters in Blackburn are taking care of caffeine business – their medium-roast house blend going the mildly nutty distance. They also have a Kenyan single origin and Ethiopian filter.

The drinks

No booze but a punchy little list of smoothies and cold-pressed juices plus sparkling water on tap.

Loving The booths. Comfy as heck.

Not getting Waiters with phones sticking out of their back pockets. Are you expecting a call from your agent?

Vegan factor Four dishes that can easily be turned down the righteous all-plant path.

Overheard "I'm going away for four weeks. No, three weeks. Whenever I run out of money."

Cafe latte $4

https://www.touchstonecafe.com.au/